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94. David Hume: Bicentenary Papers, edited by G. P. Morice. Edinburgh University Press and University of Texas Press, 1977. viii + 232 pp. »8.00 ($10.95). Anyone who attended the superbly organized Hume bicentenary week in Edinburgh in 1976 will be glad to have this commemorative volume. It comes with the usual printed elegance, and inflated blurb, of an Edinburgh Press production , but with less than their customary typographical accuracy. It is more substantial than the 1962 commemorative volume from the same source (for the 250th anniversary of Hume's birth) , but two of the contributors, Árdal and Davie, are the same. Seven of the eight plenary session addresses take up the first half of the book and twelve from over 50 short seminar papers occupy the remainder; R. J. Butler's address was withdrawn after setting, so that the pagination is awry in the cross-references in some of the footnotes of the present volume. Quite a number of the missing seminar papers have been appearing meanwhile in journals elsewhere, where they can be traced through the annual bibliographies in Hume Studies. One attraction of the conference was the opportunity provided by the exhibitions and receptions to read and hear about less familiar sides of Hume's life and work; they disclosed, incidentally, surprisingly slight documentation for Hume's alleged connection with the University of Edinburgh. It also gave a chance for those who were interested to get a glimpse into the rich quantity of available archive material, and even to buy their own personal Humeana (which ought more properly to have been contributed to those archives) from an opportunist local tradesman. But the comprehensiveness of the sideshows was not altogether mirrored in the papers presented. This may be a reflection partly of the present state of Hume studies, partly of the way the programme was constructed. For whatever their past 95. achievements, some of those who delivered the main laudations can hardly have been invited as leaders of current Hume research. Only a few of these commissioned contributions were worth perpetuating in printed form. D. D. Raphael, writing with characteristic lucidity, traces links between Hume and Adam Smith in the theory of imagination in Smith's "History of Astronomy", links which help to clarify themes in both authors. This paper develops further some suggestions made in Raphael's 1972 British Academy lecture, but in this he has been somewhat forestalled by an equally good paper elsewhere by Andrew Skinner (see Skinner's "Adam Smith: Science and the Role of the Imagination" in Hume and the Enlightenment (1974) , an otherwise uncompetitive earlier anthology from the same publishers ) . Duncan Forbes too looks, with less lucidity, at links between Hume and Smith, in comparing their contributions to 18th-century political science. He argues that Hume was using the secular science of human nature to recreate a traditional natural law theory. Some readers may have difficulty getting their tongues round ' jusnaturalist ' , a non-dictionary agent noun derived from jus naturale; but this is a useful paper for those of us who do not have the necessary learning to follow Forbes' full-scale book on Hume's Philosophical Politics, and it presents the is/ought debate from the interesting perspective of the political historian. In the best and most original of the opening papers. Pall Ardal takes up Hume's hints in Treatise III that there is an analogy between the role played by "convention" in the formation of the artificial virtues and its role in the establishment of languages in general and the institution of promising in particular. Hume's constructive views on language are, indeed, in Book III and not in Book I. The section "Of abstract ideas" in Book I offers an account of certain processes in thinking; it does not offer an ideational or any other theory of meaning, and is in fact inconsistent with such a theory. 96. John Passmore for his part starts not from Humean texts, but from a modern philosophical problem to which Hume texts are then related in an orthodox analytical manner . Does or can belief arise from decision or choice, or is it always involuntary? Passmore can do nothing more for Hume here...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 94-101
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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